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The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread

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Co-founder of the legendary Brother Juniper’s Bakery, author of ten landmark bread books, and distinguished instructor at the world’s largest culinary academy, Peter Reinhart has been a leader in America’s artisanal bread movement for more than thirty years. Never one to be content with yesterday’s baking triumph, however, Peter continues to refine his recipes and techniques in his never-ending quest for extraordinary bread.
In this updated edition of the bestselling , Peter shares bread breakthroughs arising from his study in France’s famed boulangeries and the always-enlightening time spent in the culinary college kitchen with his students. Peer over Peter’s shoulder as he learns from Paris’s most esteemed bakers, like Lionel Poilâne and Phillippe Gosselin, whose has revolutionized the art of baguette making. Then stand alongside his students in the kitchen as Peter teaches the classic twelve stages of building bread, his clear instructions accompanied by more than 100 step-by-step photographs.
You’ll put newfound knowledge into practice with fifty master formulas for such classic breads as rustic ciabatta, hearty , old-school New York bagels, and the book’s Holy Grail—Peter’s version of the famed ,  as well as three all-new formulas. En route, Peter distills hard science, advanced techniques, and food history into a remarkably accessible and engaging resource that is as rich and multitextured as the loaves you’ll turn out. In this revised edition, he adds metrics and temperature conversion charts, incorporates comprehensive baker’s percentages into the recipes, and updates methods throughout. This is original food writing at its most captivating, teaching at its most inspired and inspiring—and the rewards are some of the best breads under the sun.

320 pages, Hardcover

First published November 14, 2001

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About the author

Peter Reinhart

23 books89 followers
Peter Reinhart is a baking instructor at Johnson & Wales University. He was the co-founder of the legendary Brother Juniper's Bakery in Sonoma, California, and is the author of five books on bread baking, including Brother Juniper's Bread Book and the modern classic The Bread Baker's Apprentice, which was named cookbook of the year in 2002 by both the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals. He lives with his wife, Susan, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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5 stars
5,399 (53%)
4 stars
2,879 (28%)
3 stars
1,212 (12%)
2 stars
324 (3%)
1 star
216 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 299 reviews
Profile Image for Yodamom.
1,988 reviews195 followers
December 28, 2016
I love bread ! There it is out there, my secret is out.
- Slow bread baking is my method of choice for the moment
- Basic bread recipes that you can use fro any type of breads you desire
-Advice from bread geniuses aka gods

I will never finish it. I will feast on the recipes, alter them with wild abandon. I have been given the tools to forge ahead and try to reach bread god status with this book's guidance

I am now the proud owner of this book ! I love making bread and can't wait to make it better.

Profile Image for Andrew.
117 reviews4 followers
February 5, 2009
Reinhart is like the Yoda of bread making: he's great if you're looking for a master to guide you through the dense fog of bread making and leave you a jedi on the other side. But if you just want to know how to make a decent bread in your kitchen, well, you don't need Yoda to get you there. This book is needlessly daunting, and given it's wide reputation as a standard text for bread making, it could easily scare off a reader who hadn't actually made a simple bread before. It does have some very helpful hints, but they're all buried in the aforementioned jedi fog he's guiding you through. Making bread is not that hard, which is probably why it was invented by people who could not have ever imagined an oil mister, an ingredient Reihnhart considers essential. Get Mark Bittman's no-knead bread recipe from the New York Times website and play with it. Then use the 300 hours you've saved for something productive, like sex or motorcycle repair.
Profile Image for Megan.
88 reviews9 followers
August 29, 2008
I ilterally could not wait to open this book and spend a week baking bread. I could almost taste the wonderful earthiness of it when I first cracked open the cover. But then I noticed something - almost every recipe is for white bread. The loaves in here are beautiful and the photography is superior - but where the heck are all the whole wheat recipes? There is only 1 recipe that uses whole wheat, and in the recipe there is a disclaimer that whole wheat is not preferrable because it is too bitter. So, if you love whole grains this isn't the book for you.
Profile Image for Kimberly.
150 reviews58 followers
January 19, 2011
The best, most profound book on bread baking I have read to date. Instead of offering his Master Recipe and boring simple variations to fill pages, Reinhart teaches you like you were in his classroom.

I learned more about bread, the craftwork and the techniques of home baking in this book than in all of my other reads. Whereas Lahey's "My Bread" give the Italian influence of bread it's due, Reinhart approaches the task from Parisian methods.

The artistry! The design! The full approachability of bread making ratio and science behind it! It's all here. Through Reinhart's writing, I feel more confident in developing my own recipes and breads.

Empowerment in Creativity. What more could you / should you ask for in a cookbook?
Profile Image for Tanya D.
145 reviews2 followers
March 25, 2008
I like the detailed bread-making information and instructions, but I've had mixed results with the recipes. It seems that the recipes are either poorly tested or poorly edited, because the results often don't match the descriptions given in the recipes. For example, one recipe says to mix 3/4 cup water with 1 cup flour into a stiff ball. With this much water, the dough is merely a thick paste. I emailed Mr. Reinhart, the author, to inquire and he sent a helpful, friendly reply. This makes me like the book more, because I know that if I have problems, I can actually contact the author for advice. I recommend this book, but only as a companion to The Bread Bible.
Profile Image for Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance.
5,821 reviews284 followers
December 30, 2016
Want to bake bread? This is the one book you need. Period.

(Okay. That's really all I want to tell you. But if you really want to know more, let me tell you that there is information here about the various types of bread---stiff, standard, rustic, lean, enriched, rich, flat, direct, indirect, yeasted, leavened, mixed method, and chemical---as well as the twelve stages of making bread, along with detailed recipes for every sort of bread you will ever need or want to make. Period.)
51 reviews
October 8, 2011
I love to cook, so I get a lot of cookbooks. Most are not very good. I dislike cookbooks that are just endless lists of dubious recipes, fraught with superstition, mislabeled measurements, or just written by bad cooks. If I want that, I can have the entire internet.

But sometimes one comes along that actually makes me a BETTER CHEF. This is one of them! The recipes are good, but more importantly, Peter takes you through the entire process of baking bread, and what occurs during each of the many phases of chemical change. He also does a great job of laying out how a step would be done in a professional bakery, how that translates to small-batch baking in a home environment, what aspects of professional baking are worth bringing into your home, and how those aspects affect the final product. One of my biggest pet peeves in cook books is when someone describes some shitty shortcut, and then says, "Tastes exactly like the restaurant, but in half the time, with no fancy ingredients!" which is always a LIE. There may be many good ways of doing something, but there is always an effect, positive or negative. Peter is simultaneously realistic about what can be accomplished with a home oven, but is also clear about what effects the changes will have, and what you can do at home that professional bakeries don't or can't do (such as cold fermentation).

He also teaches you bakers percentages (necessary for learning about how bread works), but without pretention, still gives each recipe in bakers %s, by weight, or by volume, so no matter where you are on the path to great baking, you can still participate. Education and support, without pretention or snottiness.

All of the recipes I've baked came out fantastic, and I feel like I truly understand bread better - I know understand why previous recipes failed, and when I read recipes in other books, I can understand how they will come out before I even start. Very worthwhile for someone who wants to take their baking to the next step.
Profile Image for Jeffrey.
137 reviews13 followers
April 1, 2009
I've been scared of bread before now.
Now, I'm making it all the time.

The best part is the starting part, and the main thing that is missing (and I'm not sure a book could provide) is some better way of defining dough wetness besides writing words like "sticky" and "tacky". I suspect that the two-fold answer to the problem is videos and just shoving your hands in the dough.

The recipes are good (so far), and the only two that haven't worked for me are the Ciabatta and the Casatiello. I underestimated how wet Ciabatta needed to be, and the cheese I put in the Casatiello wasn't strong enough to matter.

Really, the best thing that I can say about it is that it gave me the confidence to mess around with bread. I'm already baking better, modifying recipes, and generally having a good time.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
423 reviews23 followers
June 24, 2020
June 2020: I don't remember exactly when I read this book.

All I know is that after hearing how fabulous it was from several sources, I got it out of the library. And got in trouble for sighing and hissing as I read it in bed before going to sleep. Did I try any of the recipes (formulae?)? Nope. I'm too prejudiced.

Here are a few reasons why:

• countless instances of "Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle blade"
• the phrase: "The dough should pass the window pane test"
• "formula" instead of "recipe" - what is this? A chemistry lab?
• the phrases: "Lightly oil a large bowl", "brush the top of the [shaped] loaf with oil"

That last one is the biggest sticking point.

Spraying a mist of oil over the dough prevents the dough from sticking to plastic wrap or other coverings before baking and, of course, releases the product from the baking pan once it is done. I use spray oil more than almost anyone I know, but it really makes life easier. [...] Always keep a can on the counter because every formula in this book requires it at some point. [Why Spray Oil Works Best]

Always keep a can on the counter?! Why clutter the counter that way? There. Is. No. Need. To. Use. Spray. Oil.

Homemade oil spray or not. When unoiled dough is fully proofed, it releases itself from the bowl, with the tiniest nudge of a floured side of the finger. None of the dough sticks to the bowl. Don't believe me? Try it.

Use a plate to cover the rising dough in the bowl; make sure the bowl is large enough for the dough to triple, then there is virtually no chance that it will reach the top of the bowl, because it's likely to be fully proofed when it has doubled.
Profile Image for Jeffrey Brannen.
106 reviews3 followers
November 28, 2018
Simply the best cookbook I have ever used. Flat out superb in usefulness and accessibility.

The author details the chemical and scientific elements of baking bread, explaining not just the how, but the why. This allows the home baker to make necessary adjustments while baking.

There are clear instructions to shaping and proofing the dough. Every recipe I’ve tried has been successful except the sourdough, which may have been due to my using a plastic container rather than glass. Also, I can’t seem to roll my crackers thin enough.

So beside a few operator errors, wonderful!
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,049 followers
March 14, 2010
If I could ever apprentice with a baker, Reinhart would be it. I know a lot of bakers have baked their way through this book, and I hope I can do that. All I know is anything I've ever tried from it has been stellar, and his heavily photographed step by step instructions make even the most complicated process easy to grasp.
Profile Image for Kimberle.
6 reviews1 follower
February 22, 2014
When I was in culinary school, I had access to some of the most amazing bakers I'd ever met. I was in the bread guild, which met on Sundays, and was conducted by Chef Tom Beckman. He recommended this book over and over, and one day while I was in his office, and we were talking about "the bible of bread", all of his fellow bakers recommended this book.

I immediately ordered a copy, and was plunged into an amazing adventure of baking artisan breads. This is my go-to book for bread baking, and whenever I have a question, or have forgotten something (which happens to me a lot lately), I always find myself returning to this book. I agree with the other chefs who agree that this book really is "the bread bible", and that Peter Reinhart is held in high regard by these chefs, even master baker Melina Kelson-Podolsky, whom I met via another encounter.

If you want to get serious about baking bread, or have a burning passion for bread, this is the book for you. I recommend it highly.
Profile Image for Maureen.
464 reviews28 followers
February 26, 2018
This is one of the better bread books out there. This book will have you ordering diastatic malt powder online, checking the protein content of every flour in your grocery store, and learning all the proper names for classic French styles of savory bakes. The layout could be better- it's not always practical to say within a recipe "see page 87 for X technique" when your hands are elbow deep in dough, on page 163 of another recipe. But this book is exhaustive, deeply informative, and certainly has earned it's rightful place on the shelf of any serious home baker.
Profile Image for Zomick's  Bakery.
41 reviews2 followers
November 4, 2014
Whether you are baker or not this cookbook offers a variety of recipe for preparing bread and other baking products. Me working at Zomick's kosher bakery and wanting to offer something new to customers, find this cookbook as a real baking treasury.
Profile Image for Sara.
509 reviews6 followers
February 11, 2020
My first of several books in my foray into Artisanal bread making. There is an excellent level of how to detail, enough photos to given you a decent idea of what you are doing, and the math and tradition behind it all.

Reading it felt like taking a class in a good way. Plus, my first two projects turned out pretty good, which says a lot.

A thoroughly enjoyable read and a useful tome to keep around.
Profile Image for Nick.
10 reviews3 followers
August 15, 2017
I have often heard that the chemistry and mathematics of baking serve as barriers for would-be dough-slingers, and rejoice that Reinhart does a remarkable job of breaking down the technical aspects of the craft. This book can be a beginners guide to professional and home bakers alike.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,352 reviews2,412 followers
January 2, 2012
Yeah, this is pretty darn extraordinary. If you are interested in bread, go for it. I fully expect it'll be one of your favs.

I tried the Swedish Limpa because I am trying to recreate a rye bread I tasted in Colorado years ago and which I finally learned is created through a singular process created specially at Dimmer's Bakery on Dahlia Street in Denver. Anyway, I'm still eating the Limpa a week later. It's still moist, but it isn't Dimmer's...

However, I did REinhart's recipe as background for the Pannetone at the 2011 holiday celebrations. Mind you, the guests at my tea parties did not comment on the Pannetone--they all went nuts for the Cinnamon Scones made from King Arthur's cinnamon pieces. Hmpf. Pannetone is far and away my favorite holiday bread. That others don't like it like I do just makes me think of the wine reviews I read---there is such a wide variation in personal tastes that one cannot hope to get it right every time.

Another of Reinhart's bread books, Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Bread: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor, is a favorite at my house. However, I think The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread may be the book to buy if you can only buy one. He covers the waterfront on major breads of the world and his Pain à l'ancienne technique is worth the price of admission.
Profile Image for Michala.
50 reviews64 followers
December 28, 2012
Pekařská klasika. Všichni domácí pekaři přísahají buď na Reinharta nebo Hamelmana a není divu. V knize dostanete hutný teoretický základ, podaný ovšem zajímavě a laskavě (autor musí být strašně sympatický a zlatý pán) a k tomu spoustu receptů na chleby všeho druhu. Vyzkoušeno, fungují. A protože po Bread Bakers Apprentice (2001) vyšly ještě celozrnné chleby (2007) a zjednodušené Artisan Breads Every Day, vrhám se i na tyto knihy.
Profile Image for Šárka R.
35 reviews1 follower
April 5, 2020
České vydání je celé špatně, buďte při pečení velmi pozorní a přemýšlejte!
V receptech jsem našla už minimálně 20 dost zásadních chyb typu "do chleba dejte 85 gramů pepře", "polévková lžíce cukru má 140 g" a použití slova "droždí" místo kvásku či prefermentu. S jednotkami má překlad velký problém a někdy uvádí deseti nebo stonásobek původního množství. Velká ostuda pro Knihu Zlín.
Profile Image for Carolyn Page.
1,431 reviews29 followers
January 12, 2019
If I were to compete on the Great British Bake-Off, this is the book I would study beforehand. Where other cookbooks give cursory notes or are completely silent, the expounds, and has lots of pictures! (unlike Fanny Farmer).
Profile Image for Joel Friedlander.
Author 25 books481 followers
June 26, 2012
Just about the best book about break baking for serious at-home cooks. Also quite nicely designed.
8 reviews
November 27, 2017
This was my first dedicated bread cookbook. I still glance through it from time to time and highly recommend it to beginning bakers. The recipes are easy to follow, the pictures are clear and attractive, and Peter Reinhart is a gifted storyteller who puts that talent to good use towards his stated purpose of bridging the gap between home and professional bakers.

It was using this book that I first made my own sandwich bread. That I discovered homemade ciabatta. That I learned about cold fermentation. That I made my first (largely unsuccessful) attempt at sourdough. It was a big part of my journey to making pretty good homemade bread by most accounts.

So why am I not giving this book 5 stars? Simply because, though this book was a gateway for me, you’ll find better formulas elsewhere. Over time, I’ve looked more to other cookbooks (such as those by Rose Levy Beranbaum and Chad Robertson) with more technical details. Following Reinhart’s formula, I was never able to make good sourdough and only after reading other recipes did I realize the starter I was working with from his method wasn’t viable. I also eventually became dissatisfied with the crumb and shapeability of his rustic breads. Learning about autolyse from other sources dramatically upped my bread game. It’s curious that Reinhart makes no mention of it in this volume, especially since it figures into his books before and after this one. It’s also a big part of “no-knead” bread-making methods—the rise of which Reinhart wanted to take partial ownership with his descriptions here of cold fermentation.

Despite its shortcomings, this book comes highly recommended for the beginner or intermediate baker interested in a variety of solid, accessible recipes.
Profile Image for Angie.
61 reviews1 follower
June 2, 2022
Excellent book for those who want to not only bake great bread, but understand the science and art behind bread baking. The first half of the book is instructional, teaching the basics of flour to liquid ratios, fermentation, kneading, proofing, and baking techniques. The second part of the book includes a variety of recipes, certainly most that any home baker would need. This is my second Peter Reinhardt book and I would say it is better than the first, although I still use recipes from both books. Mr. Reinhardt really knows bread, and does a great job teaching the home baker. I bake almost all of the bread our family eats now. Once I would have considered this an impossible task with my work schedule and busy family. Now, it takes only a few minutes out if my day to make the dough and a bit if planning around other activities for proofing and baking. Use this book to learn to bake bread. Then, apply the techniques to the many other wonderful recipes available out there.
Profile Image for patrick Lorelli.
3,064 reviews26 followers
September 14, 2019
I must say this book is more like a textbook than for someone who is at home wanting to bake bread. As much as I was looking forward to reading it this book left me flat like I forgot to put in the yeast. I have been baking bread since I was a teen first with my grandmother then making pizza dough at an Italian restaurant where we made everything from scratch and then back in my own kitchen. This book actually taught me nothing, the recipes were even lacking. I will say one positive that the cover photo is well done and will get people to either open the book and hopefully though won’t buy it, maybe check it out at the library. Sorry, I tried to be positive maybe it is me. I received this book from Netgalley.com I gave it 2 stars. Follow us at www.1rad-readerreviews.com
Profile Image for Eric Mesa.
696 reviews17 followers
May 5, 2023
I have not yet made any of the recipes from this book, however I'm glad it's the 3rd bread book I've come across. This book is a lot more intimidating (to me) than America's Test Kitchen's bread book (which was my introduction to the subject). I feel prepared to tackle the recipes in here now, but it would have been daunting then. Even now, I find the instructions to require just a little more knowledge. I am excited to try some of the recipes soon, though.

Mr. Reinhart is an expert in the field and teaches bread making at the university level so his methods definitely have an air of authority to them. This may work for you or you may chafe. However, he does encourage creativity with the recipes once the basics have been mastered.
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